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Recommendation for DSLR using M42 SMC Takumar lenses?

Daryl Jorud , Jul 10, 2012; 03:20 p.m.

I have a sizable assortment of S-M-C Takumar lenses, from 24mm through 400mm, and would like to use them on a DSLR body having an eye level VF. From researching various user groups and forums, it would appear that the Sony 900 or Pentax K-30 or Pentax K-5 are leading contenders. I realize the 900 is the only full frame body, but that's not the only consideration. Does one of these three rise above the other two, or are there other bodies that are not listed and would be preferable, and why? Shooting jpegs would be predominate use. User friendliness is also a high priority. Thanks in advance for your recommendations.


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JDM von Weinberg , Jul 10, 2012; 04:22 p.m.

Probably the best choice would be the newer Pentaxes, although I'll have to defer to the folks here on how easily the older manual M42 lenses work on these. I know there were M42>K adapters in the day when, but I haven't kept up with the Pentax lines.

For totally manual, stop-down metering and shooting, I will mention that M42 lenses work very well on Canon EOS digital SLRs (and film too) with an inexpensive adapter. For lenses that have the A-M switch this is easy, and for the others, some of the M42>EOS adapters have a flange that depresses the aperture pin.

Louis Meluso , Jul 10, 2012; 05:16 p.m.

Those lenses, with proper adapters, work well on a number of DSLR's and I have used them with Canon cameras with good results. I have found the telephoto lenses, especially the 300mm and 500mm M42 SMC Taks I own, are not that great on digital due to truly heavy chromatic aberrations. Yes, some RAW processors will allow for correction of this but if your'e shooting a JPEG workflow that may be a concern

Laurentiu Cristofor , Jul 10, 2012; 07:53 p.m.

I would pick Sony, because it offers FF cameras as well as a better adapter story (see this). But if an optical viewfinder is important for you, Sony will not make any more SLRs, so you may want to stick with Pentax for however long they'll keep producing them as well.

Michael Elenko , Jul 10, 2012; 10:15 p.m.

Many bodies and systems work really well with M42 lenses. It will probably come down to your personal comfort with how the user interface of each system works, as well as size and weight issues.

Canon APS-C cropped-sensor bodies can handle all M42s rather nicely. The "full-frame" 5D MK/MK2 bodies can only host a subset of M42 lenses. I've obtained excellent results with both types of bodies.

Like many here, I've happily used M42 lenses on Pentax. The differences between the experiences have been:
-Canon M42-to-EOS adaptor (Fotodiox) I've used stays on the lens. So functionally the M42 lens is treated like just another EOS mount lens. On Pentax the adapter locks onto the body and you manually screw each lens on/off.

If you only have one or two M42 lenses, the Canon approach is more convenient. But if you have more then you have to go through a similar manual process as with the Pentax (including a separate back cap stash) and that can slow you down some. But that may not matter to you.

-You can use the lenses in AV mode on both bodies. This is sweet.

-Manually focusing lenses on Canon bodies seems more challenging to me than with Pentax bodies. I also see more griping about it on Canon forums than on Pentax forums. I have found that LiveView is key for sharp images on my 7D, even though the viewfinder is clear and bright.
I have also found that using an aftermarket old-style split screen on my Pentax K20D makes a significant difference in my ability to get sharp results without LiveView.

-M42 lenses are prized for video shooting on DSLRs if that is an interest for you.

Hope this helps. You have a sweet collection of glass and I would think you would obtain a lot of satisfaction using your lenses with modern camera bodies.


Laurentiu Cristofor , Jul 11, 2012; 03:10 p.m.

Many bodies and systems work really well with M42 lenses.

If we consider DSLRs, there are only three options:

  1. Canon - no image stabilization; adapters adapt the lens; SLR mirror can hit some lenses on some cameras - complex story
  2. Pentax - has image stabilization; adapters adapt the camera, not the lens
  3. Sony - has image stabilization; adapters adapt the lens

Daryl Jorud , Jul 11, 2012; 07:45 p.m.

Would anyone care to share their experiences with focusing, whether difficult or not to achieve exact focus, their M42 Takumar lenses on Sony alpha 900, Sony alpha 850, Pentax K-5, or Pentax K-30?

Bethe Fisher , Jul 11, 2012; 08:26 p.m.

I've used some of my old screwmount Pentax lenses on my Pentax K-7 with an adapter with no problem. In all cases, I think I was shooting on a tripod and not trying to shoot quickly. I didn't have problems focusing, but I'm more used to manual focus than AF anyway. To me, the old primes look sharper than new zooms still, but that's my opinion and I'm not a pixel-peeper.

osamu watanabe , Jul 11, 2012; 09:43 p.m.

i used m42 lenses on k10d and k7. in either case, i used a split screen. i find that a split screen facilitates better accuracy in the manual focus. the results are superb as long as there is light - in darkness, you have to rely on the green light. also, i photograph in raw and i use tripod. k5 and k7 are the same in viewfinder.

i find manual focusing more satisfying than auto-focus. once i checked my m42 lens for a focusing revolution. it took 3/4 of a revolution for focusing. my limited lenses go for a 1/4 revolution for focusing.


JDM von Weinberg , Jul 11, 2012; 11:14 p.m.

Many M42 lenses work without problem on the Canon "full-frame" series. The problem is with lenses with rather longer-than-usual rear projections. Most of these are wide angle.
Nikon mount wide angle lenses are particularly troublesome because of some weird backward flanges that seem to have no function, but I'm reluctant to chop them off an historical lens.
Almost all M42 lens will mount on the APS-C (smaller or "crop" sensor) Canon cameras (like the Rebels or 7D). At least in my large assemblage of Praktica, etc., lenses I have not found any that don't, not that I've tried all of them systematically.

For the Canon 5D see the list at http://www.panoramaplanet.de/comp/ it's fairly up-to-date.

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